Buick Crowns Tweener CUV Its Sales Stud

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The Buick Encore GX, a larger, unrelated Encore with fewer cylinders than you’re used to, quietly appeared in the brand’s stable just as “pandemic” became every newscast’s favorite word. Like its Chevrolet Trailblazer fraternal twin, the Encore GX boasts a more spacious body than its subcompact stablemate and a brace of three-pot engines designer for power and thrift.

While the little Encore has been Buick’s sales leader for years, the brand says that’s already changed. Still, there are no immediate plans to ditch the GX’s smaller namesake.

As reported by Automotive News, Buick expects the Encore GX’s sales dominance to continue, at the expense of the slightly re-positioned Encore. That’s just fine for Buick, as the Encore GX’s loftier price tag means beefier margins.

With the larger (1.3-liter) of its two three-cylinder engines, the Encore GX rates a 31 mpg EPA combined fuel economy figure in front-drive guise, better than its 1.4-liter four-cylinder Encore companion. It’s also more potent, at 155 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. A 1.2-liter triple can also be had, connected only to the front wheels.

To prevent too much overlap, Buick dropped the Encore down to two trims for 2020: 1SV and Preferred, with an AWD Preferred stickering for $27,095 after destination. A “base” Encore GX FWD Preferred starts at $25,095, while a top-flight AWD Essence trim (with uplevel engine) retails for $31,495 after destination.

Tweener CUVs are a hot commodity right now, with Mazda’s new CX-30 capturing plenty of buyers in the not-quite-subcompact, less-than-compact space. Chevy intends to do the same with the Trailblazer, offering an alternative to the Trax and Equinox.

According to Buick’s marketing manager, Rob Peterson, the company expects the U.S. auto industry to add 1.5 million annual sales in this new segment — one GM is well-positioned to exploit. For now, the two Encores will “coexist,” he said, adding that, while the Encore posted more sales during the first half of the year, the appearance of the GX model shortly after the calendar change heralds a reversal of fortunes. In June, Peterson said the Encore GX muscled aside the brand’s former No. 1 in terms of volume.

It looks like a quick catch-up. After posting just 2,601 sales in the first quarter, the Encore GX moved 9,256 units in Q2 — a close finish behind the Encore’s 10,033. Last quarter, more than 54 percent of Buick’s volume carried an Encore badge of some type.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Ajla Ajla on Aug 10, 2020

    I actually got to drive one of these on Saturday. It is by no means a "luxury" CUV but it gets the "okay" rating from me. The 1.3L was passable, the price wasn't in WTF territory, you can get it in some interesting colors, and it has a GLORIOUS off button for stop/start. I found it much better than the original Encore, which is just a never-ending nut punch.

    • Spookiness Spookiness on Aug 11, 2020

      Just looked at the website. Color selections are indeed very nice. Has heated steering and mirrors and a few other features CX-30 lacks, plus a little more room.

  • Buickman Buickman on Aug 10, 2020

    no word about the GX recall rendering 80% of inventory undeliverable?

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  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.